May 20, 2015

Just Declaring the Problem can be the Hardest Part: The Era of Environmental Documentaries

Recently a Documentary came out that might have the largest impact 103 minutes of digital recording could ever have on Global Climate Change, with all due respect to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, which inarguable launched mass public discussion of Global Climate Change to new heights in the western world no matter what you think of our Former Vice President and some of his goofy gaffes and personal choices. The film is the Chinese equivalent of Gore's landmark work, however, instead of focusing on Anthropogenic Climate Change as Gore's movie did, it focused on the much more immediately impacting health effects of pollution on people in China's Industrial North East. To know the Chinese is to know their practicality, and they tend not to be as dramatically moved by secondary effects, their lives revolving around immediate ones, but they are a kind of sappy people, prone to simple affections, and knowing that they have all been suffering health affects so dramatically from pollution is bound to hit them where it hurts. A simple talk by a CCTV reporter named Chai Jing, perhaps a Chinese Katie Couric before this, all it is is an academic talk akin to a TED Talk so popular today. It was viewed 300 million times before the PRC government censored it completely from the Chinese Web, in a nation of 1.35 Billion. What jumps out more than anything is how complete the suppression of discussion about pollution has been as the world has lauded the Eastern Tiger of Economic Development since Deng Reopened China After Mao's death in 1976.
It's hard to explain what a watershed this moment is to have someone speak so publicly, authoritatively and openly about something that over a billion people have a hunch about but pretend isn't happening so as not to be singled out for negative treatment in the world's most populous complex but nonetheless authoritarian regime. Take a look: